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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dont touch the Pastors Rod

The name of a Dominican calypso which satirises a pastors role in screwing the wife of a colleague who he helped counsel, along with the same wife he was peppering, about rescuing their marriage.

Its a funny story because of course being human, there is something very scandalous about a man of the cloth being that devious.

The truth is pastors and priests screw around. Very much like their congregation and most often with them. Its normal and its good for calypso. And ultimately if it helps people have some Jim Jones eureka moments before they drink the koolaid, then great.

The pastor screws, you get saved.

CSME

A region distrustful of itself.

Trinidadians empowered by resources and feeling proudly first world in their wealth even as they murder and kidnap themselves into third world paranoia. And even when they are poor. Nothing like a man who can declare his country to be on a better path even as he himself struggles to eat.

Bajans who drink caffe lattes and play golf even as they have to serve the traditional masters to earn their daily bread. But all the indices point to an ordered society....except for those damn Guyanese. Nothing like an S&P report which declares you to be a stable nation.

Dominicans who declare independence and strength as they travel to superpowers like Anguilla to be able to have a decent job.

Jamaicans who declare that they belong to a Caribbean that they dont know or never travel to.

My experience of CSME is leaving Dominica having taken a security check and then coming off the plane to have the same check done in Antigua. Distrust.

My experience of CSME is of travelling with my Dominican passport and being asked what I am doing in Barbados, and travelling with my UK passport and being asked where I am staying in Barbados.

My experience of CSME is being asked by a Jamaican if Dominica has cellphones.

The issue of Caribbean ness is of a deeply fractured people. lacking in confidence, suspicious of each other, and desperate to mimic the same people who they wanted to grow up from.

There is a ground of comfort. Those who went to UWI, to Lodge , to the same boarding school, the middle class who see the same goals for themselves in their....we are better than this way, the merchants who share the same skin tone even as they sit in this unhealthy state of belonging only to those they do not really like.

It is why LIAT cannot produce anything of substance. The people dont really like Caribbean people even as they are Caribbean people. It is why the immigration and freedom of movement only worked during World Cup 2007. Because foreigners needed it. Once it became only about Caribbean peiple, it became irrelevant because of course we do not like each other that much.

I am dissapointed because this region has gone from slavery to freedom without actually experiencing freedom.

Abandon this mistaken game and call it failed so we can salvage it.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The Tip Revisited - 2

Continuing...

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Not in My House

Its not often that we deal with controversial topics in Dominica outside of politics. There is often an embarrassment with talking openly about things that shouldn’t be happening in a laid back Caribbean island.

But like our front page on Domestic Violence, many people know someone or has heard of someone who has been abused sexually in their home.

The strange thing is that it is relatively commonplace in the so called first world to the point that it has become almost over sensitive. We in the Caribbean do not second guess our reactions to both our and other peoples children. In the US or UK there is often a nervousness of being too affectionate with children.

In Dominica it is often said that incest is a rural phenomenon. Again, like all ‘under the carpet’ problems, this is a myth. It happens in a wide range of households and starts with either an insecure or ignorant man and a woman who turns a blind eye to the point where even their children are afraid to confide in them.

Part of the problem of talking openly about it is the cast of so called respectable characters who could be implicated. However the silent cries of children in homes across the land cannot be ignored. Women usually are the guardians of the household and where they relegate their responsibility to keeping peace with the breadwinning male, or decide that they are picking the side of the family name rather than the side of a childs dignity, then we face the prospect of serious damage being done.

Another common scenario is where parents entrust the parenting of their children to a relative who turn out to be the invisible monster who is both helping the absentee parent and damaging their childs life at the same time. What a dilemma for a child to communicate !

But more critical is how do we find a solution for this. The most painful answer is communication. Painful because the prospect of being whistleblower on someone in small communities is both dangerous and also not exactly common. However, whenever we close the doors on small children, we are helping perpetuate serious crimes.

Ironically in a culture which seemingly has so many avenues for communication, people rarely talk openly with each other, and certainly children communicate less than ever to their parents or other family friends.

It is by keeping channels of communication open that we can rescue lives from being damaged before they can even bloom. And critical to our understanding of why we must intervene, it is the overwhelming statistic that the abused can easily become the abuser, in an adulthood which is racked with rage.

It is not enough to be a guardian of our home in that sense. We must become guardians of our society because slowly but surely, the problem that we reject as being someone 'elses’ will rebound to become ours. We are seeing it happening already across other social values.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Tip - Revisited

Some time ago I used to write the articles for the Tip, a free publication in Dominica.

I am going to repost a series of my favourites for online consumption. Here is the first.

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Hard Truths


The environmentalists across the region are fighting a losing battle. It is not difficult to understand why they are losing but the level of honesty that must be practiced is extremely difficult for most to negotiate.

Let us start with a Caribbean fact that sums up the problem. Jamaica has the highest per capita churches of any country in the world. Jamaica also features the third most murders per capita in the world. What that statistic says is pretty much what one of our favorite quotes highlights. “Your religion is what you do when the sermon is over”. There are other huge contradictions between what Caribbean society projects and what it is, but let us make the linkage with Dominica and the environment.

Many environmentalists work with the assumption that Dominicans love the environment and want to preserve it. Like the fact that many moralists perceive the Caribbean to be a Christian society, the reality on the ground could bring a different conclusion. The massive migration outwards, the reaction of ordinary people to ‘development’ employment, and the hunting of whales is a clue to a harder truth.

Many( if not most) Dominicans do not care much for protecting the environment beyond random verbal support. Some will doubt our line on this but we would encourage self examination. How many people believe that without foreigners intervening that Dominicans would stop hunting turtles ? Indeed, the scarcity of turtle meat simply made it more of a delicacy. Political correctness has a whole generation of people claiming they love turtles, but the reality is, without laws to protect turtles, the turtle would probably be extinct. The simple reason being that the average Dominican does not see the big deal. And it tastes good, horror of horrors.

The losing battle on behalf of the whale watching industry vs Japans dollars forgets the reality on the ground. Dominicans in the main make no connection with their ordinary lives and protection of animals. On top of that, add in commercial incentives from one side, and it’s a battle lost. No matter that fishermen are still using the same methods they have always used and that the facilities themselves have not changed the culture of fishing.

Consider the average Caribbean, much less Dominican, treatment of pets, such as dogs and you get a clue as to difficulties faced. We have a functional view of animals, which can only be massaged by law or by funding. Again this viewpoint may seem harsh until you really think about it.

Given all of this what should be the approach for the environmentalists ? A just cause is one thing, but that cause needs to market itself not only as the moral cause (it doesn’t work for Caribbean people) but as a cause which will impact our lives beyond things like cleaner air and fresh water. Dominicans have shown a willingness to run to every polluted developed country on earth .Why should we be afraid of a polluted Dominica if the price is the very development we seem to crave?


It is time for the environmentalist movement and its backers to understand that the battle for hearts and minds begins with the pocket and the stomach. And this is a battle which they are losing, no matter how noble the intent and the cause.